Spring always makes me anxious for that magical transition eulogized in William Carlos Williams’ The Botticellian Trees:
The alphabet of
is fading in the
song of the leaves
Unfortunately, right now e.e. cummings’ in Just - may be a more accurate depiction of this midwestern spring:
in Just -
spring when the world is mud-
And so, over the course of the soggy last two weeks, I’ve been burying myself in books and hoping that at some point I’ll look up and it’ll be sunny May already… or June. Here are a few of the books that have been going on dreary bus rides with me.
The Virginia Woolf Poems
by Jackson Mac Low
When one of my favorite writers uses another of my favorite writer’s work as source material, good things are bound to happen. Jackson Mac Low, a student of John Cage, was a writer and performance artist who developed systematic writing processes to compose his poetry and performance scores. One system he developed and used often was the diastic or “spelling through” method which he applied here to Woolf’s novels The Waves and Night and Day. This book was published by Burning Deck in 1986 and has a killer cover designed by Keith Waldrop (Sorry for the poor image quality – I already returned my copy to the library and this sad image is all the internet had to offer me).
The Blond Notebook
The book has been floating around my apartment since I got it last weekend. Its always a good sign when books don’t go straight onto the shelf; it means I want to live with it a bit while reading it – and maybe before and after, too. The Blond Notebook is Michael Slosek’s most recent book of poetry and the latest release from the Chicago based small press arrow as aarow, makers of beautiful, hand bound chapbooks with hand printed covers.
Invisible Cities is a collection of short vignettes in which Marco Polo offers descriptions of far away cities to Kublai Khan and it is pure magic. This was my third or fourth time reading it and it continues to seduce me and inform a lot of my own work.
Another recent Chicago small press release – this time from Kenning Editions. I’m about two thirds of the way through at this point, but I will say that reading it while I was working the circulation desk at the library where I work gave me in an unnervingly participatory perspective. I kept shifting between Durgin’s hallucinatory cultural investigation/poet’s script and surveilling a room full of readers from behind a sound proof glass wall and an array of security camera feeds.
Bailey Romaine is a print maker and bibliophile currently living in Chicago.